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Swanson family papers

Identifier: MSS 391

Scope and Contents

The Swanson family papers comprises materials collected or created by D. Verner Swanson, Alan Swanson, Vernon Swanson, and Audrey Lundahl Swanson, most of which relate to Augustana College and the Augustana Synod.

D. Verner Swanson's papers largely date from 1911 to 1961 and include material related to Verner's ministry and education. The papers comprise two folders of material and three oversize items. The first folder contains manuscript material created or received by Verner. This includes three photographic postcards from Verner's friends Arthur Peterson and Walter (Peterson?) in Lindsborg, Kansas; an undated notebook containing quotations and observations (in English and Swedish) presumably used in Verner's sermons; a 1928 almanac listing Verner's agendas and daily activitis throughout the year; and several documents originally enclosed in the almanac, including notes, records of church pledges, and two 1928 letters from S.F. Hammarlof and Mrs. A.G. Barker about upcoming church events. The second folder contains printed material, including the 1913 commencement edition of the Augustana Observer; a typewritten copy of Verner's master's thesis, "The Family: A Study n Christian Ethics;" A Dickinson County sugar rationing card used during World War II; a clipping about Verner encouraging his congregation to remain "rubber conscious" during the war; a 1942 Augustana College commencement program; and several issues of the Lutheran Companion. Oversize items include class composite photographs of the Augustana College class of 1913, the Augustana Theological Seminary class of 1916, and a 1916 certificate formally calling Verner to serve as pastor for First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Galesburg.

The folder of Vernon Swanson papers, 1940s, comprises a series of magazine clippings pasted into scrapbook pages to create a cut-and-paste letter for Vernon Swanson on the occasion of his having been admitted to college. The letter, written by his sister "Sophie" (Ruth LaVerne Swanson), contains college advice, comics, and funny quotations clipped from newspapers and magazines.

The most substantial item in the collections is a scrapbook and enclosures, 1942-1946, created by Audrey Lundahl Swanson during her time at Augustana College. Materials preserved in the scrapbook include photographs, newspaper clippings, tickets, programs, invitations, dance cards, and valentines. Of note in the scrapbook are pledge instructions describing the various tasks Swanson had to complete to become a member of Chi Omega Gamma and newsclippings related to her friends and classmates who were drafted or killed in action in World War II. The scrapbook stops abruptly in 1944, but materials in the Enclosures and Photographs folders appear to have been accumulated by Swanson for addition to the scrapbook and document her junior and senior years. Enclosures include cards, invitations, programs, and clippings from the second half of Swanson's college years that were never pasted into the scrapbook. The bulk of the photographs consists of portraits and group photos of Swanson's friends and sorority pictures, but also included are several photos of students in Halloween costumes, homecoming floats, and a single snapshot of Swanson's wedding ceremony.

Alan Swanson's papers primarily include printed material from his time at Augustana, including 1952 and 1954 Homecoming programs, copies of the Augustana Bulletin and Augustana Observer, and a 1956 commencement program. Also included are a number of items related to the Pi Upsilon Gamma fraternity, of which Swanson was a member. Thes papers includ a photograph of the PUGs (circa 1955) dressed as prisoners holding pledge paddles, clippings related to the "Teapot Dome" phrig of 1955 (in which Roald Fryxell and other PUG members attached a teapot apparatus to the dome of Old Main in the middle of the night), and several typed reminiscences of the prank written by PUG members who either participated in or witnessed it. Also included is one oversize item, an Augustana College pennant, circa 1950s.


  • Creation: 1911-1995 and undated


Language of Materials

English and Swedish

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from Augustana College Special Collections and the copyright holder.

Historical Note

This collection relates to various members of the Swanson family, whose patriarch, David Verner Swanson was a minister in the Augustana Lutheran Church. Verner was born 13 October 1890 in Kearny County, Nebraska, to Olof and Bengta Swanson. He attended Luther College and Augustana College, ultimately graduating from Augustana with a Bachelor of Arts (1913), Bachelor of Divinity (1916), Doctor of Divinity (1924), and Master of Sacred Theology (1926). He also studied at the University of Nebraska. After graduating, Verner moved to Iron Mountain, Michigan, until 1919, when he was called to the Stockholm Church in Shickley, Nebraska. He remained in Nebraska until 1928, when he moved to Gowrie, Iowa (1928-1946) and then Geneva, Illinois (1946-1957). He served as secretary of the Augustana Synod, president of the Iowa Conference of the Synod. He married Edith Peterson 21 June 1916 and the couple had five children: Ruth (1918-2008), Pauline (1921-1970), Vernon (1922-1992), David (1930-2004), and Alan (1934-2016). Edith died in 1947, and Verner married his second wife, Euphemia Peterson Stewart, 1 February 1950. Verner died 26 April 1978. Most of the material in this collection was created or collected by Verner, his sons, Alan and Vernon, and Vernon's wife, Audrey Lundahl Swanson.

Audrey Josephine Lundahl was born 31 May 1924 to Carl William Lundahl and Etta Irene Lindbloom Lundahl in Madrid, Iowa. She had an older sister named Elaine. She attended Madrid High School and graduated as valedictorian in 1942. Audrey entered Augustana College on 6 September 1942. After rushing several sororities, she decided to pledge Chi Omega Gamma and become a "Cog." She was initiated on 21 September 1942. In October 1942 she met her future husband, Vernon Swanson. Their first date was a ferry ride. Throughout her college career, she remained active in her sorority and the Women's Athletic Association and attended many campus events, "spreads," and teas, many of which are documented in her scrapbook.

Audrey was an Augustana student during the height of World War II, and her scrapbook records her numerous male friends and colleagues who were drafted into service during this time. One of her friends from her hometown was killed in action in 1943. That same year, Vernon Swanson was drafted into the United States Army and left Augustana to fight in the war. While he was home on leave in summer of 1945, Vernon and Audrey were married, and the two lived together in Mississippi, where Vernon was stationed, until Audrey returned to Augustana for her senior year in September.

Vernon Swanson graduated from Augustana College in 1944 after spending part of his student career serving in World War II. After graduation, he was a professor of geology at Upsala College in East Orange, New Jersey, from 1946 to 1950 while he completed a Master of Science degree at Columbia University. During this time he and his wife also lived briefly in Teton National Park, where Vernon worked as a naturalist ranger, and Tuscaloosa Alabama, where he studied at the University of Alabama. In 1950, he began working for the United States Geological Survey (USGS), and the family settled outside of Golden Colorado, where they lived for 37 years. Vernon retired in 1978 and began working for the Geological Society of America as chief editor of publications, in addition to taking consultant jobs. He continued consulting until the 1980s, and passed away in 1992.

Alan Swanson attended Augustana College from 1952 to 1956 and was a member of the Pi Upsilon Gamma (PUG) fraternity. Alan's fraternity nickname was "Anus Al who Always Alleviates Adjutated Assholes." It was during Alan's college days that the PUGs carried out one of the most well-known and beloved "phrigs" (student pranks) in Augustana history, the "Teapot Dome" phrig of 1955, in which Roald Fryxell and several other PUGs hoisted teapot attachments up to the dome of Old Main in the middle of the night.


0.9 Cubic Feet (/ 1 box, 1 oversize box, and 1 oversize folder)


This collection relates to various members of the Swanson family, whose patriarch, David Verner Swanson was a minister in the Augustana Lutheran Church. Several members of the Swanson family, including Verner, his sons Alan and Vernon, and Vernon's wife Audrey, attended Augustana College, and many of the materials in the collection relate to their experiences on campus. Most notably, Audrey, a member of Chi Omega Gamma, created a scrapbook documenting life at Augustana during Worl War II, and Alan, class of 1956, was a member of the Pi Upsilon Gamma (PUG) fraternity who participated in the infamous "Teapot Dome" phrig of 1955. The Swanson family papers comprises materials collected or created by D. Verner Swanson, Alan Swanson, Vernon Swanson, and Audrey Lundahl Swanson, most of which relate to Augustana College and the Augustana Synod. Materials include correspondence, notes, clippings, printed material, a scrapbook, and other papers.


Materials grouped by creator and arranged chronologically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Received from Robin "Tootie" Swanson Warner in April 2015 and September 2016, and Alan Swanson in September 2015.

Processing Information

Processed by Samantha Crisp, November 2016.

Swanson family papers, 1911-1995 and undated.
Samantha Crisp
November 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Augustana College Special Collections Repository

639 38th Street
Thomas Tredway Library
Rock Island Illinois 61201 United States